An Appreciative Inquiry Approach to Strategic Planning: A Program Evaluation of Continuing Education Services at a Community College

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Higher Edu and Learning Technology

Date of Award

Fall 2011


This study identified engagement practices and gaps between current practices and the expected outcomes as stated in the strategic plan of a metropolitan community college. The strategic plan of a Continuing Education Services department was reviewed to determine how that plan progressed over a one year period and identified the structural characteristics of the goals of the strategic plan. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a theoretical framework for action research, organizational development, and evaluation that elicits narratives of success and positive aspects about the organization and the culture in which it is embedded. The process involves learning about the organization, its relationships, and its environment. Appreciative Inquiry also entails identifying and building on existing strengths rather than examining problems and deficiencies. Many of the approaches advocated by experts in Appreciative Inquiry revolve around a multiple dimensional model labeled 4-D. This study concentrated on the plans produced in the Destiny stage of this 4-D model. The study evaluated how much of the plan has been completed, whether or not the plan achieved the desired outcomes, what kinds of data were used to track progress, and if the plan's goals had structural characteristics. The results of this evaluation presented a review of the strategic plan's successes and failures, its approach to measurement and analysis, and provided critical insight about strategic plan processes and the importance of the evaluation measurement criteria. This evaluation also presented Appreciative Inquiry as a viable evaluation method.


Joyce Miller

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Technology